Wah, I Don't Like This Topic At All!
Updated: Jan 17
It's taken me a few weeks to find my way to this month's Writing Tips blog topic.
My first idea was to talk about "A Writer's Playlist." The intent of the blog was to uncover all those annoying messages that play over and over again in our content creator's minds as we write, and then to challenge myself to rewrite my playlist so that the tracks are more loving and supportive. I suck at doing that (which by the way is Track #5 on my writer's playlist).
So, I moved on to this super original title, "Curiosity May Have Killed the Cat, But It Revives the Writer." I do feel strongly that curiosity is one of the most important characteristics for a writer to have, but I found I really wasn't all that curious about digging into "Why?", which is the question that ultimately drives curiosity.
I've been ready to write this blog for a while, but unfortunately, I did not like either topic I'd started to draft. Thank goodness I was writing a personal blog and on nobody's timeline but my own. 'Cause when it's just for yourself that you're writing, and you just aren't feelin' the topic, no problem, right? You can just switch to a new one, and then another and another, until you land on one that makes you feel like your fingers are dancing on the computer keyboard and your mind is flowing with ideas.
But what the heck do you do when you're assigned to write on a topic and you just don't like it. You could do what you really want to do--cry, and yell, and stomp your feet and tantrum until you get your way and a new topic. While that does sound incredibly cathartic, I have a feeling that it's also likely to get us fired.
Instead, we need to take a moment and think about how we can make a topic that is completely uninspiring and turn it into something that will interest the reader. It may be a tall order, or even a venti order depending on the topic, but that's why we get paid the big bucks.
So, let's talk about what can help us get through this common content creator struggle and retain the jobs that we generally do really enjoy.
1) DON'T curb your enthusiasm. Quite the contrary, it's time for us to do an academy award winning performance and act like we really, truly, with all our hearts, care about what we're writing about. Because if you can fake it for a bit, you're likely going to end up finding something about your topic that does interest you. And when you do, no matter how minuscule of an idea it is, let this point be the muse for creating this piece.
2) DON'T bore me with the details. Just because you're suffering through the drab facts about this topic, doesn't mean you need to put the reader through them. Instead, challenge yourself to turn what could be beige writing to the extreme into an amusing purple story. What they really want to hear is a story about how this topic could affect them, their loved ones, their fur baby, their work and life, etc.
3) DON'T just scratch the surface. I can definitely empathize with the desire to just get this abysmal topic done with and move on to something you really want to be working on. However, we can all agree that this will probably do a disservice to your client, the reader, your company, and most of all, yourself. More than anytime in your writing career, the characteristic of curiosity is going to serve you well when you're writing about the driest of dry subjects. As you do your research, keep asking the question "Why?" Even if you have to ask it in a snarky voice, as in "Why on earth would someone want to read this article?" "Why in god's name would someone care about this topic?" "Why is this story even remotely unique or worth telling?" It's okay to have some fun (or poke fun at yourself and the topic) while you're probing, clawing, and digging for that one diamond in the rough.
It would be a truly beautiful world for writers if we never had to resort to these strategies. But it's impractical to think that we will always be writing about things that we are passionate about. (That is what our personal blogs are for.) While I do hope that the majority of content you write for your clients or company does have meaning for you, when the topic is a yawner, maybe these three tips can help you get juiced about it.